Short online introductory course on voluntary sector

A new short online course ‘Introducing the Voluntary Sector’ has been produced by the Open University and can be undertaken at no charge via OpenLearn.

The course covers the context and features of voluntary and community organisations including:

  • the structure and history of the UK voluntary sector;
  • values and beliefs;
  • funding issues;
  • understanding stakeholders and beneficiaries;
  • power and empowerment;
  • the role of volunteering.

It is an eight week long course, expecting a minimum of 3 hours per week of study, and will be particularly suitable for learners working (or aspiring to work) as paid members of staff or as volunteers in voluntary or community organisations.

A second course ‘Working in the Voluntary Sector’ will be available later this year.

(Source: VSSN list)


This course is provided by OU Business School’s new Centre for Voluntary Sector Leadership. The Centre is a philanthropically funded research centre of excellence. CVSL will:

provide voluntary sector organisations with access to free online leadership development courses and practice-engaged research to help strengthen the sector. The aim of Centre is to become a primary resource hub for those working in the sector to build capability within small charities.

OU news release.

The Centre’s website has also just been set up, with further information on planned ‘open learning’ courses.